Are you a fan of using visual aids for teaching but don’t know how to make one for your own? You are googling a visual content that fit your topic you tent to teach tomorrow but can’t find a suitable one?
You have come to the right place.
In this article, we would like to introduce the key steps in designing the right visual contents. If you are already feeling confident, feel free to skip the content and scroll down to the bottom, there is a list of platforms you can use to make your own visual aids for your class.
Without further adieu, these are the 5 steps that are involved in creating visual content for teaching in a classroom:
- Nail down the learning objects and your targeted audience
- Understand your own lesson: and able to strip it down to core ideas
- Choose the right types of visual aids for teaching
- Where the magic happens
- 1. Scripting
- 2. Concept design
- 3. Getting it to work
Nail down the learning objects and your targeted audience
The second important step before designing the right visual aid for your lesson is to know your students well. To know students’ learning behaviors, especially at primary level, is crucial to creating an effective lesson. Although this tip might sound rather obvious, there are learning traits of a certain age group that might be less noticeable.
Another thing you need to know is the learning objectives of the content you are expecting the visual aid to deliver. To determine the learning objectives, you will need to ask yourself two questions of ‘WHAT’ and ‘HOW MUCH’.
For example, even within one subject, different lessons have different learning objectives. Take math as an example, in a lesson about what is multiplication certainly will have a different aim than a lesson about how to do multiplication well.
After determining the main features of your student’s learning style and the aim of the lesson, if you are satisfied with your choice, then let’s get on with step 2.
Understand your own lesson: and able to strip it down to core ideas
This step is very foundational in designing effective visual aids for teaching and learning. Why? It represents the whole process of transforming a written teaching script into a form of visualization: through SIMPLIFICATION.
Apart from the design element, the effectiveness of a visual content relies on its ability to convey a concept in the simplest form possible. It is not random that visual is an efficient tool for explaining concepts. Part of its efficiency comes from the creator having to keep only the core by stripping away all the unnecessary details.
To do this, the creator, or in this case the educator, has to understand the lesson well enough to distinguish two things. One is the main points and the others are the additional details that expand from the core. Hence through the process of creating or designing a visual aids for teaching purpose, the teacher is not only encouraged to develop a creative mind but also a critical one.
In short, to create an effective visual aid for a lesson is basically a cheeky sneaky little test for teachers on their own subject.
Tip: One way to successfully pass this step could be using a mind map. Through drawing smaller ideas linking to the bigger main idea, teachers would have a pretty good sense of what is the more main, central and irremovable concepts of the lesson.
Choose the right types of visual aids for teaching
Now you have a general guide by know what you students interested in and what content you want to deliver. Next, we will discuss about which types of visual aids will fit your content. Generally, visual aids for teaching can be categorized to 3 types: educational poster, educational infographic and educational animated video. Let’s see what is pros and cons of each type, shall we?
Educational posters are classic teaching aids. Hanging posters on your classroom walls can bring helpful resources for students. This is the easiest and the cheapest visual aids you can make.
Educational posters usually use icons to visualize content with limited amount of text for further explanation. Therefore, this type of visual aids can only deliver a small amount of information and can be out-of-date. You can use this teaching aids to introduce new concepts or visualize important piece of information, place it in the classroom to remind your students. However, posters are not suitable to deliver long, complex content or a process need a lot of imagination.
Infographics are a perfect classroom tool because they can make complex information easier to understand. You can create many different types of infographic, depending on the information you want to visualize. In an infographic, you can summarize a topic, show a timeline of events, visualize statistics by chart, graph or explain a process. Infographic is like an upgrade version of educational poster.
This visual aids is good for teaching new studies, or topics with large amount of information. It is really informative but it is hard to cover all the infographic in one screen. And you might feel difficult if you want to deliver something more than cold text and numbers, like mood, or emotion.
Educational animated video
Fun fact: One minute of animated video equates to about 1.8 million written words (according to Dr.James L. McQuivey from Forrester Research). Educational animations are multi-sensory teaching tool, student can SEE the visualization, LISTEN to the narrator script and FEEL the mood and emotion from the videos (if they deliver it well). Animations can show temporal change directly, rather than having to indicate it by arrows and motion lines. Using animated video can make visual aid not only simpler and less cluttered, but also more vivid, engaging and more intuitively comprehended.
You can use animated video as teaching aids for every topic, every content, the only limit is your creativity. However it still has some downsides, and above all is the cost. The most affordable animation option is visual tools and software with a monthly fee of about $40. If you want to have a customized, tailor-made animated video, a simple 5 minutes animation is hardly lower than $1000.
Where the magic happens
After doing some brainstorming of how a lesson is to be transformed visually, it is finally time for you get started on the actual designing part. (Yay!)
From our experiences working with different clients, this is usually where we meet educators halfway. If you want to add a nice touch on the presentation of the visual or even the consistency of multiple aids, contact us and we’ll give a sample of what it could be like.
Overall, there are two main steps that go into this production house: scripting and concept design.
This is like an outline before even beginning to write the essay. You need to plan out your visual aid before designing it. This step usually comprises of thinking about the main points from the lesson and how they would be delivered. Within your chosen medium, there are a few ways you could script your visuals. Main types of script outlining could fall into one of the followings:
- Visualization: is the simplest form of script writing. It is simply the imagery or visual representation of a concept or idea. It could even be scribbles that help you explain certain concepts.
- Sequence: emphasizes the link between different concepts by inventing a big picture to fit these concepts in. This style of scripting is actually very useful for students to form a systematic and overall understanding of new knowledge.
- Story-telling: is quite a popular and attractive form of script writing. For this style, rather than mere listing or describing a sequence, you would give your lesson a life by giving it a plot. This style of scripting is also most attractive to younger learners.
Tip: to help students learn better, you could improve the scripting by adding funny and relatable visualizations. Think critically and creatively about the visuals you could use to make your lessons more relatable! These images would provide an extra layer of meaning to both the lessons and images themselves.
2. Concept design
This is where your script is going to really come to life as the design elements come in. One consideration when it comes to design is your students’ level of understanding and interest. This would tap into two things:
First is the complexity of the visual aids. This will determine how complicated the images you will use or how much subtitles you will need in your video for examples. Studies have shown that materials that underestimate or overshoot students’ abilities will prevent students from learning effectively. Therefore, try to be as fair as possible about what your audience is capable of in a lesson.
Second is the theme of the visual that is established through design elements. This consists of anything from the color scheme, font, character design, … While you are free to choose any of these elements to best suit your style of teaching, it is important to keep in mind that some designs are more suitable for a certain audience.
For example, younger students such as primary students would enjoy a more bright, colorful and simplified cartoon-like style of design. University students or office workers, for example, might prefer a somewhat more tailored color scheme along with more professional design.
The key here is to really pay attention to what your students are interested in and what they are capable of understanding.
Despite knowing the audience, many educators still get stuck at this designing bit. If you’re lacking the time but still want effective visuals, perhaps think about contacting a studio? Check out our recommendation of the prize list for an animation to see where your budget would fall! It also worths having a look at the most common problems in designing and how to avoid them.
3. Getting it to work
When you finally possess a nice concise script with a chosen visual theme, it is time to get designin’. Before giving a list of the best platforms to try out your design, there are just a few tips to transform a lesson into an effective visual aid:
- Look for inspiration for creative design everywhere (keep a notebook)
- Exchange ideas with others- something interesting might pop up
- Look for theme and consistency throughout the entire work (it is important to stay focus and concise, to try not to focus on more than one topic)
Now as promised, these are:
The best 5 platforms for you to start creating effective visual aids!
- Vyond: educational animation-creating-tool for the very beginner
- Blender: offline video editing apps for the educational purpose
- Lesson Up – design a unique lesson for every learner through flexible uses of quizzes and multimedia
- Screencastify: A Chrome add-ons that offer quick and easy recording of yourself and the screen
- Prezi— an online platform that allows creating alternative and stunning presentations
- Piktochart– a platform for creating infographics
- Canvas: a more versatile online platform with chances to create presentations, brochures, posters, etc…
*Design studio: alternatively, get a studio to transform your creative ideas into reality.
By now, you should have an understanding of what goes into creating an effective visual tool. However, it is always useful to continue getting feedback and revising it.
Designing visual aids for teaching purposes can certainly take some time and effort but the result would definitely be worth it. We hope that these articles would provide some basic steps to get you started on designing the most suitable tool for your class.